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Nobles County offers $30,000 to support historical society grant application

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday voted to give a $30,000 cash grant to the Nobles County Historical Society, contingent on the organization’s success in securing a state legacy grant to improve Worthington’s former National Guard Armory.

NCHS Board Member Jerry Fiola appeared before commissioners to provide an update on the organization’s continued plans to create a historical society museum in the downtown building. Part of that planning process includes applying for grants to help fund a multi-million-dollar rehabilitation of the armory.

Fiola said Tuesday the grant sought by NCHS is highly competitive, with 89 applications totalling approximately $13 million. Only $4 million is available to award.

Noting an application from Lyon County that already boasts $30,000 in fundraising dollars toward a project in Marshall, Fiola said the NCHS application could be ranked higher if it, too, showed a local contribution.

“We think in order for us to be successful, we think it’s critical to come up with at least a 10 percent match — $30,000 — to at least be in the game,” Fiola said.

He spoke of NCHS’s chances to get a grant, noting that in the organization’s favor are the facts that it has never received a large (more than $10,000) legacy grant from the state historical society, and that three smaller grants were awarded for feasibility studies on transforming the armory into a museum.

Working against NCHS’s ability to get a grant, Fiola said, include that the county remains the owner of the armory, and of course, other competition for the grant dollars.

“We believe we’re at a crossroads again,” Fiola said in his request for a county contribution. “We think it’s critical to proceed to get that grant.”

The final application deadline is July 20, and Fiola said he anticipated the selection of grant recipients would be completed in late August or early September.

“We would like to get in there (the armory) sooner rather than later,” Fiola said. “If we don’t get this grant, it bumps us to a year later.”

He then told commissioners there was discussion about moving artifacts into the armory before renovations are complete, although he pondered if a lack of air conditioning could cause damage to them. Handicap accessibility and restrooms are also issues facing the building’s use.

Commissioner Matt Widboom said if the county were to provide a $30,000 cash contribution, it would have to come from its funding reserves.

Commissioner Justin Ahlers, who serves on the NCHS board, moved to support the $30,000 contribution, which was ultimately approved in unanimous vote.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved construction of a channel along the Adrian Branch Library to alleviate drainage issues. The city of Adrian will provide the labor, with the county’s cost for materials estimated at $5,850. In addition, commissioners approved the construction of a two-car parking pad and retaining wall behind the library, also to address drainage, at a cost of $12,696. Both projects will be funded through the county’s capital improvement bond.
  • Approved payments of $32,229.91 to Gag Sheet Metal for the Prairie Justice Center reroofing project; and $47,363.20 to Splitrock Landscaping & Nursery for Nobles County Government Center site improvements.
  • Learned the county will receive additional grant dollars from the state to fund two more intersection lighting projects, bringing the total grant up from $180,000 to between $200,000 and $220,000, according to Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder.
  • Approved five-year tax abatements through the Nobles Home Initiative for V&O Properties to construct a new duplex at 873 and 877 Flower Lane; and for Alaina Koplin to construct a new home at 1450 Crailsheim Road, in the Six Fairway View plat, Worthington.
  • Received an annual audit summary and update from Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water Director Jason Overby. In 2017, LPRW connected 54 customers, compared to 44 in 2016 and 49 in 2015. Fourteen of the new hook-ups in 2017 were within Nobles County, bringing the total number of LPRW’s Nobles County customers to 744.
  • Recognized Rich Linsmeier, facilities maintenance superintendent, as the June Excellence in Performance Award recipient.
Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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